Just a moment before crossing into the new year, I went from quietly calm and content to sad and anxious. It was a surprising intrusion of feelings.
It was my little guy’s birthday; we’d had a great day and he was now peacefully asleep while my former partner and I were watching YOU on Netflix. I was falling asleep so we agreed to go to bed. I got to bed a few minutes before 12 am; my partner was fast asleep and ‘boom’, instantly I felt down.
When I look back I realize it was a fleeting moment of insecurity. A moment of (social media fuelled) doubt about…everything.
Simply, I forgot my many blessings and fortunately, these feelings didn’t take hold. By the next day, the first day of the new year, I’d remembered three very specific and important words I’d recently been asked to reflect on; gratitude, acknowledgement and balance.
I sat down and made a list of all the things I was grateful for in the past year and what a powerful act that was. I looked at my 2019 calendar, month by month and jotted down the happenings that caught the attention of my heartstrings. Once complete, there were obvious themes and trends; Motherhood, receiving my Masters, and Marathons.
My little guy turned two on the last day of 2019. You’ve heard it before, time flies. You blink and all of a sudden the days and nights of being in a constant state of fog are gone. Gone is your tiny newborn, your inconsolable infant. That baby who couldn’t, wouldn’t fall asleep without being stuck to your boobs now falls asleep in his crib, on his own. That baby who didn’t want you to leave his sight now wanders off quickly and independently, rarely looking back. That baby who used to eagerly try new foods now pushes away his ‘favourite’ foods in disgust. That baby with the gummy smile now has a mouth full of teeth. Yes, although he will always be my baby, my baby is gone. I have a full fledged toddler with the strength and willpower of several adults. He knows what he wants, when and how he wants it. He is curious, determined and independent and I’m excited to see how his personality and interests grow and develop.
As a result of bureaucratic miscommunication and errors on my part; a blessing in disguise, my return to work was postponed and I got to spend more time with my babe. A little more time trying to out-stubborn one of the most stubborn humans I’ve ever encountered. As broke as I was for as long as I was, the extra time home, with him, was well worth it. I actually wrote some books y’all (more about that soon)! Yes, this motherhood thing, for me…is all about gratitude.
I’ve spent a lot of time pursuing higher education. It’s always been challenging, but nothing was harder than pursuing my Master’s with a little person to take care of. Somehow, well, with the help of my village I graduated in June 2019. Never before did a degree fill me with such joy and happiness. Never before was I pursuing higher education while working full-time, while also pregnant or with a baby. So. Damn. Hard. But I did it. I didn’t do it alone, but I did it.
I acknowledge that I have well-rounded, educated, creative, critically thinking family and friends who are always available to explore ideas and concepts with. I acknowledge that I have a mother and former partner who were always willing to read my papers in the latest hour. I acknowledge that I come with a wealth of experiences and the ability and desire to learn, reflect and grow. Through this reflection, I was reminded that 2019 was in fact a year full of many things of which to be proud. I acknowledge that further studies (a PhD) may be in store for me, but for now, I’m enjoying focusing on my creative writing pursuits, because there are many!
To work out, or not to work out? To eat healthily or to eat my chocolate bar? To read and rest or to continue watching hours of 90 Day Fianceé? These are the questions I encounter on a daily basis. Depending on the state of chaos going on in my mind, or how empty I may feel after a day’s work…the latter choice usually wins. I’ve realized that I don’t have the self-discipline I desire. When it comes to maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle, without an entourage or a companion, I don’t typically last. If it doesn’t include a social aspect like soccer or dance, I’m simply not going to follow through.
That being said, I am goal (deadline) oriented. So when asked if I’d do a 5k run, I agreed! I was sure I was going to prepare for it, because I didn’t want to make a fool of myself come race day, but in the end I didn’t train. I didn’t prepare the way I intended, fatigue always won out. On race day, it was cold and rainy and I prayed that the event would be cancelled. It wasn’t. And, I did it. I ran intermittently, went at a pace I knew I could manage. Afterwards (and during), it hurt, but it felt good! Despite actually hating running, I couldn’t wait to sign up for another race and actually prepare for it. Fortunately, however, 5k’s weren’t the only thing I had to rely on.
After about a 4 year hiatus, I found myself in dance rehearsal again and performed in two shows in 2019. It wasn’t easy, I felt out of shape and out of form. I felt that baby brain had really done a number on my ability to remember choreography, but again, even though I wanted to quit way too many times, I did it. I danced. I was reminded that movement is an integral part of my well-being. When my body is still for too long, I become unwell. Whether it was completing a 5k run or trying to make my brain and body remember a sequence of movements, movement is needed for me to maintain balance. When I move, my mind, body and soul are aligned and I am in balance.
Looking back, I wonder if my impending sense of doom that NYE night was foreshadowing for the months to come. A warning that single motherhood was in my future. A warning that life as I know it was going to change forever. A warning that change is the only thing I can rely on, and that it is up to me to reflect and pay attention to the changes that occur in and around my life. How do they make me feel? How do they make me want to feel?
Moving forward, into the strange and fascinating times of 2020, I must pay attention and acknowledge the lessons I am being given. I must seek, find and cherish balance in all aspects and facets of my life. I must learn, grow and again be grateful for all of the lessons and experiences that this new year presents me. Regardless of if they have anything to do with Motherhood, Master’s and Marathons, I will embrace the surety of change.